West Belfast family issue meningitis warning following sudden death of man (22)
THE family of a west Belfast man who died suddenly from meningitis and sepsis at the age of 22 have issued a warning about the killer infection - urging others not to "take anything for granted".
Odhran McKenna, who lived in Lenadoon, died in his sleep at the home he shared with his grandparents, Paul and Angela McKenna.
The healthy young man, who had an 18-month son, had complained of a headache on January 7 and had went to bed thinking he had a contracted a virus that had been going around.
He passed away in his sleep during the early hours of the following day. As post-mortem revealed he had contracted meningitis and sepsis.
Speaking to The Irish News, Paul McKenna (65) said his grandson's sudden death had "hit us hard".
"It was very rapid," he said.
"For me, it was terrible. We were up checking on him. He was up and down a couple of times to get water and we made him dinner, but he didn't feel up to eating it.
"Later that night, we all went to bed and I went to check on him again and he had passed away in his sleep."
Mr McKenna said Odhran, a former pupil of De La Salle College in west Belfast, who worked for Autoclean, was "very happy and he had friends everywhere".
"Everybody who met him had a good word to say about him," he said.
"He was always at the bikes. He went racing all over the place. He was a genius for working with cars.
"He just had a natural talent for putting things together.
"Everybody who has come into the house has said he was a gentleman. He was a well-mannered child. He was always working at something. He had a great work ethic.
"He was a really good father. All of his money went for the child. He was dedicated to the child."
Mr McKenna said the family would miss Odhran's "lovely, big smile".
"I have had plenty of death in my family and my wider family, but this is the most devastating one," he said.
"He lived with us and we loved him. He never brought trouble to the door. He was his granny's pride and joy."
He urged people to be vigilant of the symptoms of meningitis and if concerned, to get checked out "right away".
"You can't take anything for granted," he said.